In Memory of Professor Byron W. “Bill” Daynes

daynes_b_1On June 7, 2015, our good friend and colleague Byron W. “Bill” Daynes passed away after a brief illness.

Bill was born on October 26, 1937 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He received his BS and MS degrees from Brigham Young University and his PhD from the University of Chicago.  Among others he worked with at Chicago were Ted Lowi and Duncan MacRae, Jr.  Bill taught at DePauw University (1971-1990), where he also chaired the Political Science Department, and at Brigham Young University from 1990 until his retirement in 2013.

Bill’s scholarship focused on environmental policy, social policy, moral policy, and the presidency.  He wrote books on how Franklin D. Roosevelt shaped American political culture, on Roosevelt’s dealings with Congress, and on the New Deal’s impact on public policy.  Other presidents Bill wrote about included Madison, Jefferson, and Clinton.

Moral Controversies in American Politics, which Bill coauthored with Raymond Tatalovich, is now in its 4th edition. It outlines how issues that are contested in moral terms differ from issues that divide people according to their economic self-interest (Tatalovich and Daynes 2011). Bill wrote an early book that examined community conflict over abortion policy (Tatalovich and Daynes 1981) and, in a coauthored work, addressed how the electoral consequences of attitudes toward abortion changed between 1972 and 1992 (Wattier, Daynes, and Tatalovich 1997).

Moral policy was not the only controversial field that Bill was willing to engage. His most recent book on the environment, U.S. Politics and Climate Change: Science Confronts Policy, was coauthored with Glen Sussman and published by Lynne Rienner in 2013. In it, he and Sussman parse the growing disconnect between, on one hand, the substantial scientific evidence for the ill effects of climate change and, on the other, the indifference to these findings at the national level. Treating each branch of government in turn, they try to explain why the federal government has failed to lead a change in environmental policy (Sussman and Daynes 2013). Combining his interest in the presidency and environmental policy, he coauthored White House Politics and the Environment, again with Sussman, which was published in 2010 by Texas A & M Press. Part history and part political science, this book compares the environmental policies of each modern American president and concludes that, for better or worse, the executive branch has substantial influence over the American public’s interaction with the environment (Daynes and Sussman 2010). Bill had previously published American Politics and the Environment (2002) with Sussman and Jonathan West. Because of his interest in Clinton’s presidency, he felt especially honored when he was named a William J. Clinton Distinguished Fellow (2006-2007) and to be asked to deliver the William J. Clinton Distinguished Lecture in 2006.

While these three foci are woven through much of what he published, he also wrote about trade policy, the founding, religion and public policy, and term limits, among other topics. Bill was thus a scholar with broad interests who applied his formidable analytic talents to many topics.

Collaboration was a hallmark of Bill’s work. Raymond Tatalovich and Glenn Sussman were his most frequent collaborators, but he often coauthored or coedited volumes with other scholars as well. Glen Sussman, one of Bill’s frequent collaborators observed that Bill was the “consummate research collaborator and coauthor,” who “always carried his fair share of the work.”  Sussman adds, Bill was “kind, gregarious, conscientious and gracious.”  Ray Tatalovich, a classmate of Daynes’ at Chicago, observed that he and Bill complimented each other in their work together and that Bill was “a very precise, careful, judicious researcher and writer.” We observed that Bill made the most of professional meetings, especially ones in Chicago, where he would meet with his coauthors and map out research topics and work on draft manuscripts.

Above all, however, Bill loved teaching and sharing his passion for political science.  His students regarded him as a wise and trusted advisor; he believed, more than they themselves sometimes did, in their potential to achieve their goals. Showing a genuine interest in their wellbeing, he encouraged them to pursue opportunities that were both challenging and rewarding.  Students enjoyed Bill’s rigor, knowledge of the subject matter, and sense of humor.  He was unabashedly biased, but students praised him for fostering open discussion.  Indeed, they admired him for his liberalism, even though most considered themselves politically conservative.

Though he mostly taught courses on policy, constitutional law, and the presidency, he liked to do new things as well. A few years before his retirement, Bill created a new course on Japanese internment during World War II.  The course fit Bill’s strong civil libertarian streak, as it concerned issues of national security and civil liberties from World War II to the present.   He took students in the class to Topaz, a nearby internment camp, to help them understand the plight of those interned there.  Bill also developed a course called “American Politics through Literature.”  Students enjoyed the opportunity to discuss American politics through political novels, such as Warren’s All the King’s Men, Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, Orwell’s 1984, and Richard North Patterson’s Protect and Defend.

He was an active member of the profession.  He was invited to present at many special conferences on topics such as environmental policy, social policy, the presidency, and specific presidents.  Rarely did Bill miss an APSA meeting during his career.  He used conferences to network with other scholars, many of whom he would eventually collaborate with, and to gain new insights on areas of interest to him.  Bill was a political scientist’s political scientist.

Bill’s work habits, even in retirement, were extraordinary.  He was actively working on research projects until just a few months before his death.  Throughout his career, he would spend most days working normal hours in the office, go home for dinner, and then come back in the evening.  He was in the office most Saturdays as well.

But Bill had a life that did not revolve exclusively around work.  Bill and his wife, Kathryn, were the parents of three children and three grandchildren.  He was devout in his church, even serving as the head of a local congregation in Indiana.  A long-time supporter of the arts, he was a patron of the Utah Opera Company and the Utah Shakespeare Festival.  But he also was an avid fan of BYU sports.  He spent many hours in his office on Saturdays working on various research projects while simultaneously watching a BYU basketball or football game.

Bill and Kathryn were deeply committed to BYU.  She was a professor in the History Department until her retirement in 2012, while Bill taught in the Political Science Department until he retired in 2013.  Bill was important to our department for many years.  We will deeply miss him.

 

Daynes, Byron W. and Glen Sussman. 2010. White House Politics and the Environment. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press.

Sussman, Glen and Byron W. Daynes. 2013. US Politics and Climate Change: Science Confronts Policy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc.

Sussman, Glen, Byron W. Daynes, and Jonathan P. West. American Politics and the Environment. Boston, MA: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

Tatalovich, Raymond and Byron W. Daynes. 2011. Moral Controversies in American Politics. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

———. 1981. The Politics of Abortion: A Study of Community Conflict in Public Policy-Making. New York, NY: Praeger Publishers.

Wattier, Mark J., Byron W. Daynes, and Raymond Tatalovich. 1997. “Abortion Attitudes, Gender, and Candidate Choice in Presidential Elections: 1972 to 1992.” Women & Politics 17, no. 1: 55-72.

 

Richard Davis and David B. Magleby, Department of Political Science, Brigham Young University

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